Chargers Training Camp: Rivers First Day

Philip Rivers trotted onto to the field for his first practice with the San Diego Chargers on Tuesday and the morning session saw the newly signed quarterback running with the second team offense. He got plenty of reps on his first practice while Cleo Lemon felt the brunt of missed snaps under center and Joe Germaine felt it even more when he was released to make room for their new quarterback.

Before getting to the quarterback musings of the day, there were two lineup changes of note that took place on the field and one group that remained steady this week.

Roman Oben is back at left tackle while Courtney VanBuren was pulled from the starting lineup and rookie Shane Olivea was placed in at right tackle. Van Buren ran second team – still at left tackle. It was unclear whether Hudson Houck was still experimenting going into week three of camp or a little upset at the play of Van Buren. Leander Jordan ran second team at right tackle.

Igor Olshansky flipped sides on defense and was in the starting lineup, taking the place of Otis Leverette, to the left of Jamal Williams with Adrian Dingle on the right side.

The starting linebackers continue to be Steve Foley, Zeke Moreno, Randall Godfrey, and Ben Leber.


Drew Brees had the first pass of the day and was on the money to Eric Parker who got deep on Quentin Jammer. Brees then connected with Kevin Dyson who had a step on Sammy Davis. The third pass that Brees threw was right into the waiting arms of Kevin House, an easy interception for the cornerback. He came back to throw a strike to Reche Caldwell past the outstretched arms of Drayton Florence.

The long awaited first pass and first look from rookie quarterback Philip Rivers was not worth the hype. He targeted Reche Caldwell who slipped while running his route during the one-on-one session and Rivers tossed the ball out of bounds. His first real pass went to Kassim Osgood with a little zip but fell incomplete. He then showed his rust by overthrowing an open Grant Mattos. The next time out he laid one over the shoulder of Ruvell Martin but it bounced off his fingertips and fell to the turf.


Brees again played first chair and threw an incompletion to Osgood to open the session. He followed it up by getting old reliable in the mix with a dumpoff to LaDainian Tomlinson. Brees went back to Osgood for a short out pattern and completion before giving way to Rivers.

Rivers came into the 9-on-7 still looking to complete a pass. He accomplished it with his first throw. Although the ball sailed a little high, Justin Peelle went up to corral it and save Rivers from another incompletion. Rivers then went the safer route and hit Josh Norman underneath for a sure completion. Rivers finally showed some moxie, threading a ball into coverage for Osgood about ten yards down the middle of the field for a completion.

Doug Flutie got in the mix and his first pass went incomplete to Mattos near the sidelines. Flutie then hit Parker on a quick curl for eight yards before giving was to Cleo Lemon who sent a bullet to Peelle for a completion.


Brees went 4-for-4 during these drills with all of his passes of the shorter variety.

Rivers started off by going end zone to Osgood. His pass was slightly overthrown but what he did on the play was more worthy for consideration. He looked off to his left and held the coverage before making a quick transition right to find his intended target. He came back to hit Brock Edwards with a sure pass across the middle of the field and ended the session with a money pass to Dyson.

Flutie, the wily veteran, showed everyone up by connecting on his first pass – a beautiful connection he made with Mattos for the catch of the day. Mattos caught the ball with a face plant, diving into the end zone to come up with the reception and six points.

Lemon then showed he had his own bag of tricks. He threw a fade to Micah Ross in the back of the end zone and Ross made the reception over a beaten Davis.


Brees hit Osgood on the first pass of full squad work. A handoff to Tomlinson, where he broke through untouched straight into the middle of the line left Wade Phillips scratching his head and wondering where his defense went. Brees was then sacked because of good down the field coverage. The incumbent then called an audible at the line when he saw single coverage on Osgood to the outside. Oz ran a streak and got a step on Kevin House but a Brees floater enabled House to catch up to the ball and swat it away. There was a flag on the play and it seemed to be on House but the floater was the part that rankled the coaching staff. Brees came back to hit Parker on a 20 yard pass over the middle of the field.

Rivers came in and the first thing he did was audible out of a play at the line of scrimmage. He got the look he wanted and threw an out route to Dyson 20 yards down the field but overthrew a wide open Dyson. The very next play he called an audible again but this time it was into a running play for Jesse Chatman who got six to eight yards. The next play was an example of rookie work. Rivers got the snap and dove forward as if it was a QB sneak but the broken play appeared because Rivers did not look like he was even expecting the snap of the ball.

Flutie came in and the first pass he tossed went the way of Ross. Davis was in coverage and got flagged for pass interference. It prompted several players on the defense to say, "Flag was on the offense! Flag was on the offense!"

Marty Schottenheimer quickly found Sammy Davis in the secondary and came back with, "I don't care what you say. You had a fist full of jersey."

Rivers came back out for a second stint of 11-on-11, needing the extra work with his long layoff. He manned the second team offense which faced off against the first team defense. He overthrew Caldwell to start before an incompletion to Josh Norman. His next toss went to Caldwell on a quick slant before another incompletion to Dyson. The last pass went to Ross who was open. The pass was true but Ross simply dropped the ball, looking upfield before he snared the ball.

"I wouldn't rule him out," Schottenheimer said of Rivers playing this Friday. "We'll see how he does throughout the next several days and he may have a little duty this week."

Will-full wisdom:

Overall, Rivers looked rusty and overanxious. He overthrew a bunch of receivers on the day but did not throw any picks. There are times when he looked like a first round pick and other times when he looked like he missed 30 practices. In the back of your mind, you sometimes wonder if his passes were off target because of his throwing motion.

The obvious is that he takes charge of the huddle and has a lightning quick release. He did an excellent job of looking off coverages and held the defense with his eyes on a number of plays before going back to his number one target. For his first day running with the second team, it was productive and as expected.

Will Mortensen can be reached at

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